Friday, May 29, 2009

Back to what works

A friend at work gave me variety of books to read. Some non-fiction, some fiction. I finally read The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale and it was well worth the wait. It was great being able to see the actual creation of the detective in the late 19th Century and the prototype for detective novels for years to come. Inspector Whicher was highly praised, much maligned and consistently right. If you are interested in detective mystery novels, this is book is a must.

After having such success with this book, I moved on to a novel, The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson. I haven't read much Scandanavian crime novels, but they seem to be crashing the mystery scene these past few years. I just couldn't get into this book. It was dark and gloomy and seemed to take a long time to build up momentum. I don't usually mind a prolonged build-up if it is well written and atmospheric. Eriksson's novel never really got me motivated. It's snowy and cold. I get it. The characters were never fully developed for me either. John used to get in trouble with the law, but now he's a family man who knows a lot about exotic fish. And? Maybe I'm not going to get into the Scandanavian crime scene, but I have loved the Wallander mini-series on PBS.

With that being said, I'm back to what works for me. I'm reading Charles Palliser's The Unburied. It's an atmospheric (yes, twice in one posting) Victorian mystery that involves ghosts stories, old churches, fog, and crooked cobblestone streets. Like a kid reading under the covers at night with a flashlight, I still get a kick out of getting spooked. And tonight, when my wife shuts off her bedside light, I'll stay up a little while longer with The Unburied, flashlight in hand.

On deck:
The Six Messiahs by Mark Frost